The 24-inch iMac is a testament to the power and efficiency the M1 processor provides. Apple moved from the bulky-aging iMac chassis to an 11.5mm thin slab of aluminum with whisper-quiet fans. The 4.5K display with a slim bezel and colorful design will make your desk pop with Apple's new style.
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The external design of the iMac had not changed much in 13 years, with minor alterations to screen size or aspect ratio being the most noticeable updates. The new 24-inch iMac breaks that cycle with a new thin and vibrant lineup.
The redesigned iMac replaces the 21.5-inch iMac 4K that ran Intel processors. A 27-inch model has been rumored since this 24-inch release, but nothing has been announced.
24-inch iMac Features
This thin-and-light desktop runs macOS and can perform most tasks needed by everyday consumers. While a Mac Studio might be needed for more intense workflows, most users will get more than enough done with the M1 in this iMac.
The 24-inch iMac is 11.5mm thick — about the same thickness as the original iPhone. It no longer has a prominent chin with an Apple logo, and gone are the thick black bezels surrounding the display. The 2021 iMac is a slim and light desktop PC with seven color options and powerful Apple Silicon.
The color design splits into two tones — a muted color on the front "chin" of the display and a more saturated color on the rear of the computer. The front has a slim white bezel surrounding the screen. The muted color and white bezel are used to maintain display color balance and reduce distractions.
The desktop stand is the same muted color as the faceplate and can be traded for a VESA mount at purchase. It doesn't have an adjustable height, but the entire iMac can be tilted for better viewing angles.
The colorful design bleeds over to its peripherals as well. The magnetic power cable is color-matched to the vibrant back panel, and the keyboard and mouse have colored highlights to match.
At less than 10 pounds, this desktop is easy to move around. Apple anticipated this with a new magnetic power connector. Users aren't exactly expected to pop one of these iMacs out at a cafe, but the plug-and-play nature of its power cable means carrying an iMac to and from the office is not only feasible but easy.
Display and audio
Apple increased the resolution to match the size of the new display. Moving from 21.5 inches to 24 inches necessitated an increase from 4K to 4.5K to maintain Retina resolution. It is 4480 by 2520 pixels with a 218 PPI.
The display is otherwise unchanged. It has 500 nits of brightness, a P3 wide color gamut, and True Tone technology.
Users can enjoy their 4K iTunes content with color-accurate reproduction and excellent sound. Apple has packed six dynamic speakers into the 24-inch iMac monitor. Two pairs of force-canceling woofers are balanced with a high-performance tweeter, which works together to create room-filling sound.
Apple says the new iMac supports spatial audio when playing video with Dolby Atmos. This means that all audio will sound like it's coming from a specific direction around you, and when you turn your head, you'll still perceive audio from the correct direction.
Apple hasn't explained exactly how this will work with the iMac considering all of the speakers are in front of the user. Spatial audio is a feature in AirPods Pro and AirPods Max that creates a 3D sound space within the listening environment. As the user turns their head, it sounds like the audio is still coming from the iPhone or iPad speakers.
Apple is in the middle of a transition from Intel processors to custom Apple Silicon. The first processor Apple made for the Mac is the M1, and it packs a punch. When it first released in the 13-inch MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac mini, it was faster than most Intel-based MacBooks for sale.
Apple claims that the performance gains provided by the M1 enable instant wake from sleep, faster app launch, and 85% faster CPU performance. Apps like Affinity Photo so run much more efficiently that users can edit large photos in real-time.
Thanks to Rosetta 2 and macOS Big Sur, apps originally built for Intel Macs work seamlessly on the ARM platform. In some cases, Intel apps actually run better via translation on the M1 than they do on Intel Macs.
Native ARM-based apps and translated Intel apps aren't the only software users can run either. Thanks to the M1, users can run iPhone and iPad apps natively on the iMac.
There are two versions of the 24-inch iMac — a cheaper one with fewer ports and fewer color options and a more expensive one with slightly better performance. The M1 on the cheaper model has an 8-core CPU and a 7-core GPU and can be configured with up to 1TB of storage and 16GB of RAM. The more expensive model has an 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU and can be configured with 2TB of storage and 16GB of RAM.
The 24-inch iMac scored 1729 on the single-core metric and 7459 on the multi-core metric. This was achieved with the base 8-core CPU and 7-core GPU M1 processor.
When compared to the 2019 21.5-inch iMac running Intel with an Intel Core i7 processor, the M1 runs 56% faster when compared to single-core performance. The M1 is 24% faster when compared to multi-core.
Ports and I/O
The ports included with the 24-inch iMac differ depending on which model customers choose. Both models have two USB 4/Thunderbolt ports, but only the more expensive model has two additional USB 3 ports.
The magnetic power cable connects to an external power brick that also houses a Gigabit Ethernet port. Only the more expensive models come with an Ethernet port, however.
There is a headphone jack on the left side of the iMac because there wasn't enough depth to place it in the back. A headphone jack needs 14mm of space, where the 24-inch iMac has only 11.5mm of depth.
It has a 1080p webcam with special image processing performed by the M1. Apple says it is the best webcam ever placed in a Mac.
Apple apparently considered placing Face ID in the redesigned M1 model since its display thickness would have enough space for the technology. However, the idea was scrapped before final production began for unknown reasons.
A color-matched Magic Keyboard comes with both iMacs, but only the more expensive model has integrated Touch ID in the keyboard. Customers can upgrade their keyboard or add a color-matched Magic Mouse or Magic Trackpad at checkout.
There is a three-mic array that Apple says provides studio-quality recordings. The beamforming mics ignore background noise so the audio heard on calls and in recordings is clear.
Apple Silicon M1 24-inch iMac review: Computing power for the masses
Thanks to the efficiency of the M1 processor, Apple was arguably able to execute the most significant overhaul to its consumer-focused Mac in years. The 24-inch iMac ditches the aging design of its predecessor for a thin and colorful exterior reminiscent of the iPad Pro.
Apple's first three Macs with Apple Silicon kept the previous design to ensure the initial transition was focused on getting the processor right, not on flashy design updates. After the great reception of the M1-based Macs, Apple has decided now is the time for a design change.
The curved back and prominent chin have been replaced with a flat rectangle with a small chin and no Apple logo. There are seven color variants with two-tone schemes. The display is wrapped in a thin off-white bezel.
The screen increased from 21.5 inches to 24 inches with a 4.5K display. The entire computer rests in the chin while the rear of the display houses the speaker components.
Ports and I/O
The thin design doesn't leave much room for ports, so the usual plethora of ports has been reduced to four USB type-C ports. The two USB 4/Thunderbolt ports are standard on every 24-inch iMac, but the additional two USB 3 ports are only included on higher configurations.
The iMac has a newly designed power cable that uses magnets to keep it in place. This cable runs to a power brick that has an Ethernet port built-in, but it is only included by default on higher-end iMacs. Moving Ethernet to the power brick enables a simplified port configuration on the machine and better cable management for cables that are rarely touched.
We liked the placement of the headphone jack on the side of the machine. Rather than having to get up and fiddle with a port in the rear of the display, we could easily plug the headphones in without searching.
Apple included the latest wireless standards in the 24-inch iMac. They have Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 for connecting wireless devices.
There are two variants of the M1 processor depending on which tier of iMac you choose. Both have 8-core CPUs, with the difference being 7-core or 8-core GPUs.
The better tier also comes with Touch ID in the Magic Keyboard and Ethernet in the power brick by default. The cheaper model has options to upgrade those accessories at checkout.
Our testing showed the M1 processor handily beat out the base model Intel-based iMacs in single and multi-core operations. The M1 could not compete against dedicated graphics in the 27-inch iMac, but the score reflects its ability to handle graphics well.
The 24-inch iMac enters the market as an un-upgradable appliance computer. It doesn't replace a professional workstation like the 27-inch iMac or iMac Pro, but it didn't need to. To us, it seems this is a desktop targeted at bringing iOS lovers to the Mac.
Apple, of course, remains the master of the up-sell. The $1,299 model brings customers to the table, but the $1,499 quickly becomes affordable once a Touch ID keyboard and Ethernet-capable power brick are added.
For most, there's a lot to like with the first Apple Silicon iMac. At any level, it is an excellent machine that won't appeal to the most power-hungry or the Intel-bound. For those folks, you probably need to wait it out for another generation or two, as the M-series chip is ultimately incremented, and your Intel-stuck software migrates to Apple Silicon.
And, for the devout, there's a lot of call-backs to older Macs, like color, white bezels that started on the G4 iMac, and near-silent computing continuing to have a renaissance, after getting left behind more than 15 years ago with the G5 and Intel Macs.
- New thinner and colorful design
- Powerful M1 chip
- Headphone jack is easier to reach
- Touch ID on Magic Keyboard
- Limited port count, especially at $1,299
- Optional Ethernet moved to power brick
- Still has a chin
- Not upgradable
24-inch iMac Price
The 24-inch iMac with a 4.5K display ships with a base configuration of an M1 with an 8-core CPU, 7-core GPU, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage for $1,299. Customers can increase the storage up to 1TB, double the RAM, or add a Touch ID Magic Keyboard at checkout.
The higher-end model with an 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of internal storage costs $1,499. This model comes with the Touch ID enabled Magic Keyboard by default, and users can increase the storage up to 2TB or double the RAM at checkout.